Homeland Security Chairman John Carter Floor Statement on H.R. 240, the Fiscal Year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Jan 13, 2015

House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter gave the following statement on the floor today in support of H.R. 240, the fiscal year 2015 Homeland Security Appropriations bill:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I’m privileged to present to the House this bipartisan, bicameral agreement providing appropriations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2015. Before I describe the details of this agreement, I want to thank everyone who has worked to get this bill here today because—despite its importance to national security and public safety—its path to the floor has been far from certain.

“First, to the Speaker and the Majority Leader and your staffs – thanks for doing what is necessary to get the bill to this stage of the legislative process.

“To Chairman Rogers and the full committee staff – thanks for fighting for this bill. It wouldn’t be on the floor without you.

“To the House and Senate subcommittee staffs, and my personal staff – Darek Newby, Kris Mallard, Cornell Teague, Laura Cylke, Anne Wake, Steve Gilleland, Bill Zito, Jonas Miller, and Val Baldwin – thanks for your advice and counsel crafting this agreement. Your work takes you away from home and family, and I appreciate your efforts. Finally, to the Honorable David Price, the Ranking Member of the subcommittee – thank you! Our partnership is critical to this bill’s success. Your experience and measured approach makes this agreement better. Thank you for your service and, more importantly, your friendship.

“As everyone knows, several amendments will be proposed to stop the President’s recent executive actions on immigration. I plan to vote for these amendments because, like many Americans, I believe the President’s actions exceed the authority provided to the Executive in the Constitution.

“We need to have this debate. But after all the arguments have been presented, the underlying appropriations bill must be enacted because it is crucial to the nation’s security and to public safety.

“Mr. Speaker, last week we watched a terrible tragedy unfold in Paris, as armed terrorists killed innocent French citizens who were doing nothing more than going about their daily lives. Like 9/11, this event and others that have occurred this year, remind us that our democratic values are under constant attack and serve as a warning that we must remain vigilant.

“Make no mistake – what happened in Paris can happen anywhere, including the United States, and we must provide the resources necessary to find and root out the seeds of terrorism. Therefore, passing the Homeland Security Appropriations bill is an imperative we cannot fail to meet.

“Mr. Speaker, this agreement is very good and I’m proud of it. It supports DHS’s frontline personnel and essential security operations and maintains fiscal discipline.

“Specifically, for Customs and Border Protection,—

  • The agreement adds $42 million above the request to assure 24/7 surveillance of all land, sea, and air approaches;
  • It increases Air and Marine flight hours from 74,000 to 95,000 per year;
  • The agreement fully funds 23,775 CBP officers to continue efforts to reduce wait times of passengers arriving in the nation’s international airports without resorting to burdensome user fees, as proposed in the President’s request;
  • Funds are included for 21,370 Border Patrol agents, sustaining the highest operational force in DHS history;
  • Funds for tactical communications equipment and border security technology are increased by $20 million above the request; and
  • Substantial increases are included for targeting systems and data analysis to support counterterrorism efforts.

“For Immigration and Customs Enforcement --

  • Custody and deportation operations are increased by $862 million above the request to ensure full funding of 34,000 legislatively-mandated detention beds and to detain, deport, and deter the influx of families and children illegally crossing the southwest border;
  • Included in the amount are 3,732 new family detention units to deter illegal migration of families, and
  • 207 new enforcement officers to expedite the process of returning illegal migrants to their countries of origin.
  • ICE’s investigative capability is increased by $82.4 million over the request, which will result in more convictions of child pornographers, drug smugglers, human traffickers, and other criminals; and
  • Full funding is provided for E-Verify and all existing 287(g) agreements.

“For the Transportation Security Administration –

  • TSA screeners are capped at 45,000 -- 1,000 below last year’s level;
  • Privatized screening is increased by $12.1 million over the request; and
  • Funds are reduced from TSA’s current request and prior year balances – saving the taxpayer almost $300 million.

“For the United States Coast Guard—

  • Operational hours in critical source and transit zones are increased by $16.7 million over the request;
  • Depot level maintenance, which is crucial for Coast Guard’s readiness, is increased by $52.7 million over the request;
  • The eighth National Security Cutter is fully funded; and
  • $95 million over the request is added for an additional C-130J aircraft.

“For the United States Secret Service— $25 million in additional funds are provided to address training shortfalls highlighted by the White House Fence Jumper; and to enhance perimeter security, including for additional canine teams.

“For the National Protection and Programs Directorate, funds are provided so DHS can effectively manage the collection of biometrics and protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyber infrastructure.

“For the Federal Emergency Management Agency—

  • $7 billion is provided to fully fund operational needs for disaster relief;
  • First Responder Grants are increased by $300 million above the President’s request to sustain funding for State and Local Grants, Firefighter Assistance Grants, and Emergency Management Performance Grants.

“For Science and Technology –

  • $23.7 million above the request is provided for vital research efforts, including biological defense, cybersecurity, border security, and first responder technology; and
  • $300 million is included to complete construction of the National Bio- and Agro- Defense Facility.

“Finally, this agreement provides absolutely no discretionary or mandatory funds to implement the President’s executive actions on immigration. As you know, the costs of processing immigration applications are paid entirely by individual applicants when they submit their supporting documentation. Fees from those transactions are collected in a specific account in the Treasury, as mandated in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The hard-earned income of American taxpayers does not subsidize costs of immigration applications, and the spending bill under consideration today has no funding for these purposes.

“In closing, Mr. Speaker, this Homeland Security bill meets the security needs of our nation and the fiscal stewardship expected by the taxpayers. I believe it is worthy of every Member’s vote and urge my colleagues to support it. I yield back the balance of my time.”